My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Chatty Socks

From the somewhat odd title to this blog post, you might think that I have finally flipped my noodle and I think my socks are talking to me. Let me assure you that this is not the case.

The title is referring to a new version of my generic toe-up sock pattern that I put up on my site today. It’s the same pattern, but it goes into much more detail about short rows and picking up wraps. It is in pdf format and can be found here. It is also linked to from my knitting gallery page — the link to the knitting gallery remains in the sidebar on my main blog page.

Suzanne asked:
I had a couple of questions for you about socks…since you have made and worn so many. Do you notice a lot of pilling or almost felting at the heel? I wore a pair for the first time the other day and now the heel looks all wispy and I’m not sure if it’s technique or what. There’s pictures on my blog (the Jan. 7 entry). Also, how do you care for your socks?

First question first:

Pilling or felting at the heels? It depends on the sock yarn used and on the shoes I’m wearing. Soft 100% wool sock yarn of course is not as hard-wearing as 100% wool sock yarn with a tight twist or wool/nylon blend sock yarn. And I’ve got one pair of shoes that rub more at the heel than others.

Second question:

How do I care for my socks? Once again, it depends on the sock yarn. They all go into the washing machine on a gentle cold water cycle in a nylon mesh bag. The sturdier ones go in the dryer, and the more delicate ones are laid out flat to dry.

Although I will put the sturdier hand knit socks in the dryer, I am always careful to take them out when they are barely dry. Sometimes if I catch them in time, I take them out when they are still damp and lay them flat to finish drying.

Y’all Are So Swift

I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about their swifts and experiences with them. Thanks to everyone who weighed in.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some black stockinette to knit.


But I’ve started hallucinating about pale pink Rowan Kidsilk Haze. See — I keep imagining that Lucy is taunting me with it.


Perhaps I am a tad . . . um . . . off, after all.

Lucy sez:


“Wake me when she starts making sense.”


  1. Wait… if Kidsilk Haze is the stuff and people call “knitter’s crack” and Lucy is sniffing the ball….

    Naughty Lucy!

  2. Let me preface this note by saying that I hope hope hope that I’m wrong! I’ve made a few pairs of socks with Hollyspring Homespun’s wool and I love them. However, when I wear them my feet get very red and terribly itchy, usually to the point where I have to take them off. I’ve washed and rewashed the socks and nothing helps.

    Am I allergic to wool????

  3. Thanks for the new pattern link. I really appreciate all the work you do for us knitters.

    And of course I also appreciate the daily picture of adorable fur.

  4. Oh – I am so glad to see the more detailed instructions on the short row wraps. Thanks! I just posted a novel on my woes with a pair of socks and I will surely have these by my side as I dive into the heels!

    Lucy is always such a sweet kitty to look at!

  5. Pink KSH? Is something frothy and light on Wendy’s knitting horizon? ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Lucy isn’t taunting you; she is just seeing how it will work out as a new pillow for her. But I do see something pink in the future,

  7. I learned short rows from your sock pattern, and I am delighted to see that I pick up my wraps the same way you do. (The little things make me happy.)

  8. Thank you Wendy for the increased explanation of shorts rows and wraps. That’s the part that confuses me and then I get frustrated and put it away never to finish a sock.

    To Liz R: from what you’re describing, you may very well be allergic to wool. You may want to try a different brand yarn to see if you have the same problem. If it continues, even with switching, I would recommend knitting socks with a non wool fiber (I’m a former allergy nurse BTW)

  9. You must get tired hearing me say I can’t wait to see the Bohus finished, but I can’t! Lucy has a stash of her own perhaps?

  10. Thank you Wendy for the new and revised version of your toe-up socks. With this, I may go back to doing my socks toe-up. It was always a little confusing to me. Happy New Year!

  11. ok I am a sock virgin.
    yes truly
    but after SIX (yes SIX) pairs of gauntlets I am feeling comfortable with dps and even short dps so I am going to dive in – even though i can see another addiction coming – i mean how easy to talk yourself into buying one skein…or two…

    but really seriously, what yarn would you recommend for a first timer sock knitter? i get overwhelmed with all the kinds …


  12. Mmm, Kidsilk Haze. My favorite favorite yarn in all the world, though, is Rowan Kid Classic. Just soft and fluffy and lovely and ever so British. Mmm, Kid Classic. (I don’t know what brought that on. Maybe the yarn is talking to me too.)

    All this talk about swifts has been very interesting; maybe I should invest in one. I use the back of a chair for my winding purposes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Bo-ho-hus and a bottle of rum!

    I use either a lampshade with the finial taken off or my husband for a swift, depending on the size of the skein. Husband gets used as a swift fairly rarely, so he actually enjoys it when it happens. And I just realized how, um, interesting that sounds, but I’ll leave it.

  14. Hate to point it out, but you have an error. When you get to the heel instructions you repeated the line about making both sides of the toe identical. Cut and paste can be dangerous eh?

    Love the site, wish my two “angels” were as good looking (and thin) as Lucy.

  15. Have you been sniffing yarn again?

  16. How do you maintain such firm commitment to one project at a time? Bohus is gorgeous but I could never do all that black stockinette without sticking it away somewhere out of site at least on occasion! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Thank you for the updated patten. I can’t tell you how many pairs of socks I’ve made using the original pattern. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Thanks, Wendy! I figured it was probably just the wool but I also wonder if I could have knit at a tighter gauge to help. Will have to experiment!

  19. I was reading your post while my stepson was looking on and when we got to the picture of Lucy and the KS Haze he said, “oh, a fur ball.” ๐Ÿ™‚ Leave it to Lucy to even have adorable fur balls. Thanks for the New & Improved generic toe-up sock pattern. I plan to make my first pair of toe-up grown-up socks this year. This will be my road-map. Love watching the Bohus progress. What a beautiful sweater that is going to be.

  20. Pale pink Kid Silk Haze? Are you well? Do I need to come out and conduct an intervention? If I do, does it mean I’d get a peek at the stash room?

    Okay, that last one is just fishing, but hey – that’s a short list down there. I am still concerned though…

  21. Theresa in Italy says:

    Wendy, your timing is perfect. I was just gearing myself up to tackle the heel of my 2nd sock—thank you so much for the excruciatingly detailed short row instructions! I love knitting socks but the toes and heels still intimidate me just a wee bit.

    And belated Happy Birthday! I was astonished to discover, when I was in the States for the holidays, that a friend who’s the same age as I am (we both turned 50 last year) was already a member of the AARP. On the other hand, if you had a government job here in Italy, you could have retired by now…!

  22. Nice to hear about the dryer. I haven’t dared to put my sok there, but next time I’ll try.

  23. Just curious about the Knit from Your Stash 2007. Will you be having a blog/site where people can login and show what they’ve made from their stash? It is such an excellent idea and some wonderful creations may come out of it…stuff worth sharing. Also, could be a resource for Stash Swapping?

  24. Uh, Wendy … are you saying your socks DON’T talk to you?

    I thought that was normal, because mine do all the time.

    Lucy, what do you think?


  25. Thanks for the pattern, Wendy!

  26. Thank you so much for the further instructions on your toe up socks. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read it all, but I’ve really admired the shape your pattern gives to the toe and am looking forward to trying the toe up instead of my usualy top down. Thanks so much!

    PS – Lucy clearly knows that the good yarn is the way to world domination!

  27. Hi Wendy and Lucy. You have mentioned a software that you use to design a sweater. Would you please be so kind to mention it again? Thank you!


  28. One more thing: Thanks for posting your sock pattern in such excruciating detail! I love it.

  29. Wendy, bless you for the expanded sock tutorial! I’ve made exactly one sock, cursing (in a ladylike manner, of course) through all the short rows, and now I’m ready to tackle the other one.

  30. Thanks for the pattern in Adobe. Excruciating detail is fine by me. I keep buying sock yarn from Looopy Ewe and have planned to try toe-up but never had the nerve. A great bunch of cuff-down socks were starting to get boring, especially since kitchener is something that I CAN live without just fine.

    I didn’t see Lucy’s birthday necklace in her picture, is she saving for special occasions?

  31. Beth P. in Maryland says:

    Wow!! That is a seriously detailed sock pattern.

    About two months ago I discovered your blog and Toe-Up Sock pattern and I knitted a toe with some left over yarn using your instructions. I was not thrilled with the result. I am going to try again using the revised/expanded directions. I may have done something wrong. I’ll let you know if I’m happier with the results! Thanks!

    Can’t wait to see what you do with the pink KSH. Pink is my favorite color! Lucy has excellent taste in yarn, and I see she’s still enjoying her blue throw.


  32. Yay!! Thank you for a more detailed sock pattern!!! I was just about to start trying to knit my very first sock (today or tomorrow in fact). I was going to use your pattern because I have a big foot and was worried I might run out of yarn by the time I got to the toe of the second sock if I tried a top-down pattern. Anyhoo, I think with such a detailed pattern I will be less likely to screw it all up and give up sock knitting forever!

    Yes, yes. My doggie would be gnawing on the kid silk haze like a chew toy. No wool for you!

  33. Mohair/silk blends should be on the addictive list. I keep looking over at my S.R. Kertzer Ovation and wishing I didn’t have some other stuff to get off the needles first.

  34. Bless you for the update to the Generic Toe-up Tutorial. And by the way, there can’t be enough excrutiatingly painful detail when you’re trying to teach someone how to do this!!

  35. Another “Thank you” for the details in the sock pattern, esp. about picking up the wraps. I had been struggling, then fiddling with different approaches. . . but now I can try this particular technique and see how it feels and looks. I like it when the decreases on the two sides mirror each other and lie nicely.

  36. Just a practical note here:

    Sock yarns that were ‘born’ as sock yarns (Blauband, Opal, Wildfoote etc.) – i.e. superwash with up to 25% nylon – get done by machine here, too. But you don’t need to go through the ‘fish out and dry flat’ routine. Just wash’em on a 40C setting and hang on line when dry. The crunchpoint is the detergent. Ordinary modern detergents contains enzymes to remove protein stains. Wool is a protein stain … I use unscented soap flakes (yes, in the washing machine!), a standard program, and dry the socks on the line outdoors (don’t own a dryer). My socks have an average life span of a year before developing holes – and we only wear handknit socks in my house, since both DH and DS are psoriatics and their feet seem to prefer’em.

  37. My husband and I have a penguin just like yours. Our makes noise when you squeeze it’s belly. ๐Ÿ™‚